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The priority of injustice: Locating democracy in critical theory

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Abstract

This original and ambitious work looks anew at a series of intellectual debates about the meaning of democracy. Clive Barnett engages with key thinkers in various traditions of democratic theory and demonstrates the importance of a geographical imagination in interpreting contemporary political change. Debates about radical democracy, Barnett argues, have become trapped around a set of oppositions between deliberative and agonistic theories—contrasting thinkers who promote the possibility of rational agreement and those who seek to unmask the role of power or violence or difference in shaping human affairs. While these debates are often framed in terms of consensus versus contestation, Barnett unpacks the assumptions about space and time that underlie different understandings of the sources of political conflict and shows how these differences reflect deeper philosophical commitments to theories of creative action or revived ontologies of “the political.” Rather than developing ideal theories of democracy or models of proper politics, he argues that attention should turn toward the practices of claims-making through which political movements express experiences of injustice and make demands for recognition, redress, and re pair. By rethinking the spatial grammar of discussions of public space, democratic inclusion, and globalization, Barnett develops a conceptual framework for analyzing the crucial roles played by geographical processes in generating and processing contentious politics.
... For Dewey, changes in social behaviour are necessarily environmental and cannot occur through reflective intention alone, while efforts to improve environmental conditions will necessarily implicate human practices. As Barnett andBridge (2017: 1193) observe, '[i]n Dewey's view, inquiry is initiated by a situation in which the normal functioning of organisms in their transactions with the environment becomes disturbed or doubtful in some way'. ...
... For Sennett (2018: 289), breakdown and repair serve as occasions for reconfiguring and not simply restoring urban processes, allowing for new compositions from existing elements, whether this concerns transport, energy or utilities: 'Repair cast in these terms has political resonances'. Dewey himself was concerned with 'repairing troubled situations' (Barnett andBridge, 2017: 1194), seeking to use disturbance for social evolution. When things fall into disrepair, become dysfunctional, a liminal space to rebuild otherwise temporarily reveals itself (De Coss-Corzo, 2021; Ramakrishnan et al., 2021), and what appeared fixed becomes unsettled: 'there is, in other words, a politics of repair and maintenance' (Graham and Thrift, 2007: 17). ...
... For pragmatists, reality must not simply be critiqued but composed, requiring a reparative rather than suspicious orientation (Lake, 2017). In this way, pragmatism has informed thinking on cosmopolitics, an alternative conceptualization of the political to that currently dominant in critical theory (Barnett, 2017), which 'begins with the contestation of a unified cosmos and the realization that it is necessary to reshuffle and recompose the common world' (Farías and Blok, 2016: 9). Cosmopolitics is tasked with 'construction of the common world' (Stengers, 2005: 995), broadening the rollcall of entities implicated in the composition of public life. ...
Article
The UN’s Decade of Ecosystem Restoration commenced in June 2021, with the expectation that ecological restoration will be vastly scaled-up internationally. Millions of hectares of the earth’s surface is projected to be restored, from forests and peatland to rivers, reefs and grasslands. This will transform restoration from a predominantly localized, community-driven field to a highly capitalized, professional activity. As the renowned biologist E. O. Wilson proposed, the twenty-first century certainly does look likely to be characterized by restoration. And yet, thus far, the still emerging field of ecological restoration has been dominated by the natural sciences, in both theory and practice, neglecting broader questions of how to live in and with restored landscapes. This paper contends that if restoration is to be significantly expanded over the next decade, the social sciences and humanities must be involved to ensure its purpose is given adequate scrutiny, by engaging wider publics of interest in scheme planning, design and implementation. This is crucial given the dominance of natural capital accounting in restoration, which privileges economic reasoning over alternative, more radical forms. Pragmatism, which has a substantive philosophical interest in the relationship between humans and their environment, can offer a distinctive orientation to inquiry conducive to collaboration between the natural and social disciplines. Focusing on waterway restoration in the United Kingdom, and drawing on social and natural science literature, this paper outlines a pragmatist research agenda that recognizes multiplicity in nature, advocates experimentation in human-environment relations, and foregrounds community in democratic renewal. The paper considers not only ways that pragmatism can inform restoration but how restoration can advance a pragmatist agenda for invigorating public life. This encourages scholars to think with not only against restoration, attending to composition as well as critique, as part of a political urban ecology.
... For the present purpose sustainability and justice are understood to be two closely related normative claims to autonomy, democratic decisionmaking, recognition, (intra-and intergenerationally equitable) fulfillment of needs, and the integrity of ecological and social systems (Akbulut, Demaria, Gerber, & Martínez-Alier, 2019;Barnett, 2017;North & Cato, 2017;Walker, 2012). ...
... Scholarship on alternative economic and political spaces (Fuller, Jonas, & Lee, 2016;Leyshon, Lee, & Williams, 2003) challenges instituted social relations that produce (and demand) a continuously increasing, yet ever more unequally distributed, resource consumption, to an extent that is fundamentally destabilizing communities and ecological systems. It includes approaches such as postcapitalism (Chatterton & Pusey, 2020;Gibson-Graham, 2006), postgrowth and degrowth (Demaria, Kallis, & Bakker, 2019), commoning (Bollier & Helfrich, 2012), radical democracy (Barnett, 2017), and the social and solidarity economy (North & Cato, 2017). While drilling down thoroughly into the unsustainability of capitalist relations and proposing more just and sustainable alternatives, the literature often remains inchoate as to the practicalities of social change and its actual realization. ...
... Following theories of power that base their conceptions on notions of alignment, coordination, and organization, what becomes visible is the "double-sidedness" or "double potentiality" of power (Barnett, 2017;Hardt & Negri, 2004Saar, 2010Saar, , 2014. On the one hand, practices can form patterns that are dominative, say by forcing individuals to sell their labor for little compensation in order to be able to survive. ...
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Contemporary trajectories of unsustainability and injustice require a profound restructuring of political, economic, and cultural institutions not sufficiently reflected in top-down governance. Diverse bottom-up actors and organizations that attempt to practice and institute more sustainable and just relations, in turn, have to tackle unfavorable conditions and generally lack the resources to take full effect. This paper critically discusses the role of strategy and compromise in facing this cycle of institutional inertia and lack of bottom-up agency. To illustrate its argument, the paper draws on an ethnographic case study on community-led initiatives in Stuttgart (Germany). It traces the ways in which a particular arrangement-an "open work-shop"-supports individuals and organizations in their engagement in sustainability-oriented activities while substantiating ethically and socially ambiguous practices. Building on these empirical insights, the paper develops a notion of strategy that revolves around the reflective construction of hybrid but transformative infrastructures to strike a balance between ethical congruency and transformative pragmatism. K E Y W O R D S degrowth, postcapitalism, hybridity, infrastructure, strategy, transformation, activist scholarship
... This includes much current social practice theory (Shove et al., 2012;Strengers and Maller, 2015), the multi-level perspective (Geels, 2010), transition management (Loorbach, 2010), strategic niche management (Seyfang and Smith, 2007), and technological innovation systems (Bergek et al., 2008). Contemporary work on transformation, meanwhile, comprises interwoven approaches related to alternative economic and political spaces (Fuller et al., 2016;Leyshon et al., 2003), including degrowth (Demaria et al., 2019), postcapitalism -to which we could include diverse economies (Chatterton and Pusey, 2019;Gibson-Graham, 2006) -commoning (Bollier andHelfrich, 2012), radical democracy ( Barnett, 2017), and social and solidarity economies (North and Cato, 2017). ...
... Theories of power generally move between conceptualisations of power as domination on the one side and as constitution on the other (Saar, 2010;Barnett, 2017;Hardt andNegri, 2004, 2017). Turning to Spinoza, for example, Saar (2014: 10) identifies a 'double-sidedness' or 'double potentiality' of power, which can also be found in Wartenberg's (1990) analysis. ...
... Following criticisms of community economy scholarship's apparent overemphasis of plurality and diversity (Samers, 2005;Jonas, 2016;Collard and Dempsey, 2019), however, there is a decision to be made over the depth of deconstruction and politics. Politics does not only involve an acknowledgement of difference (Barker and Pickerill, 2012) but also antagonism (Barnett, 2017), in the sense that a normative position is taken against particular relations or forms of conduct. Diverse economies and social practice theory -each in their own specific ways -show tendencies of eliding the role of conflict and yet provide crucial tools for thinking through the politics of transformation. ...
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While practice theories and diverse economy approaches are widely employed by human geographers, the two literatures have developed in parallel, rather than in dialogue. This article argues that this has constrained understandings of postcapitalist social change and traces an emerging theoretical conversation between these traditions. It outlines the potential of scholarly engagement with what we term ‘diverse practices’, especially when discussing the scalar possibilities and constraints of community activism. By grounding diverse economic scholarship in practice-theoretical conceptions of power, politics, and scale, the article proposes a materialisation of postcapitalist possibility and explores the barriers and facilitators of transformative geographies.
... Following the work of people like Iveson (2007), Watson (2006), and Sennett (2018) we want to add to critical urban studies' repertoires for producing empirically nuanced accounts of urban politics and urban change (see also: Barnett, 2014;Bridge, 2014;Amin, 2012). We are interested in exploring how notions of justice and worth emerge, develop, and are contested in particular situations (Boltanski and Thévenot, 2006;Blok, 2015;Barnett, 2017). Attending to these processes expands our accounts for how it is that urban public spaces are remade and reconfigured, and allows us to further develop our capacity to make sense of and evaluate urban change. ...
... It places disputes in relation to particular material issues (Latour, 2005;Marres, 2012). And is an approach that frames political change as an ongoing working-out of problems (Barnett, 2017;Hankins, 2017;Harney, et al. 2016); a working out that is nonetheless full of argumentation (Bernstein, 2010). Indeed we can connect it to authors like Zerilli (2009) and Young (1990) who talk about political argumentation as being grounded in ordinary experiences. ...
... Moreover in this case, where so much energy was focused on the practice of skateboarding, the production of films, and the aesthetics of the buildings, it was important to find a way to discuss the centrality of affect in the dispute (Carter and McCormack, 2006;Bridge, 2004;Borden, 2001). This involved both how people came to be affected by the dispute and assembled into a public (Barnett, 2017), but also how the reasoning of the dispute itself unfolded in an affectual register (Connolly, 2008); not least because one of the things the assembled publics were able to do was communicate affectively. The point is that affect is entangled with how assembled publics go about participating in a dispute. ...
Article
Cities are full of disputes about organizing public life. These disputes are important for deciding how spaces get used, and they are integral to how publics form and develop. In all sorts of ways they define the potentialities of urban public life. This article tells the story of the Southbank Centre's plans to redevelop their central London site, and Long Live Southbank's protest of these plans to save their skateable space. Through this detailed case study the article develops a distinctive conceptual apparatus for making sense of public disputes. Drawing links between Deweyan pragmatism and assemblage theory, the article explores how publics were drawn together as assemblages of humans and non‐humans with the capacity to act and argue. It follows the arguments that each side made—and the justifications underpinning them—to explore the different ideas of public‐ness that were at stake in the disagreement. This also helps highlight the space for cooperation that existed. The article emphasizes the part affect played in shaping the dispute; recognizing its role in public reasoning, and in how people get pulled into different publics. This is a story not only of disputation, but of how a corner of London expanded its public‐ness.
... 13 See also the analyses in Schwittay and Braund (2017) and in Collier et al. (2016). 14 See Barnett (2017) for a critical assessment of this aspect of radical democratic theory. ...
... As in approaches that draw from radical democratic theory (e.g. Swyngedouw, 2018; cc.f.Barnett, 2017).3 All translations of German texts by AnkeGruendel. ...
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In recent years, design has appeared in an ever-broadening range of government processes and projects, particularly in cities. What has design become, such that its methods and practices could be applied to urban planning and public administration? And what are the governmental problems that design methods and designers are being mobilized to address? This article answers these questions by tracing the tangled intersections of design, city planning, and urban administration in the last century. Through a genealogical analysis, it shows how a number of designers came to redefine design as a set of procedures for formulating and proposing solutions to “wicked problems.” This understanding of design—which developed in fields such as industrial and product design that were remote from government—has recently gained salience in public administration and city planning. In contrast to an influential geographical analysis of design as spectacular architecture that is divorced from any broad social objective, the article argues that design in government can be analyzed as the design of politics. Its concern is not with the aesthetic or functional qualities of material objects—whether a manufactured product, building, or article of clothing—but with the ongoing work of organizing argumentation and decision making about complex, large-scale problems.
... Jones, 2009, p. 493). The debate around the horizontal and vertical dimensions of space and politics is central for a spatial research agenda on transformation (Barnett, 2017;Hardt and Negri, 2017; see also Schmid, 2019a). Shaped by many misunderstandings -in particular the confusion of ontological perspectives with arguments pertaining to relations of power -the 'scale debate' shows a need for a differentiated consideration of two issues. ...
... Power, as alignment of practices, then, can be both dominative and transformative. As Barnett states in the introductory quote of this chapter, a theory of power should consider both domination and constitution making visible power's 'double-sidedness' or 'double potentiality' (Saar, 2014: 10, see also Saar, 2010;Barnett, 2017;Negri, 2004, 2017). Following community economy scholarship, economic practices are not solely aligned through profit interest and as markets but also along non-capitalist dimensions. ...
... This, I suggest, complicates the critical gestures that anti-politics scholarship puts into play. Ultimately, I propose that anti-political peace is best analysed as a grounded field of contest; this entails problematising it not through a normative or "ontological" (Barnett 2017) perspective on what politics should look like after conflict, but rather from an inductive approach to politics as an irreducibly polysemic, shifting and contextual notion. ...
... In Abidjan, agreement over the undesirability of politics did not erase disagreements over its meaning. In the end, perhaps the impossibility of defining politics a priori is the point, as feminist geographers (Staeheli & Kofman 2004; also Barnett 2017) have often pointed out. Just as local radio stations could not definitively pin down what kind of politics they should silence, those who resented the airwaves' "politicisation" could hardly isolate a realm of politics of which they were not part. ...
Article
After a decade of conflict (1999–2011), peace-building in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, focused on the local as a primary site of reconciliation. In addition to being local, peace was anti-political, seeking to separate place from politics as autonomous realms of public life. Through the example of local radio peace programmes, this article offers a critical, ethnographic account of anti-political peace as a spatial process. It links local peace and its justifications to the operations of governmental power, emphasising continuities of anti-political mediation and political domination. Such a historicised perspective challenges the framing of anti-political peace as the opposite of politics-as-conflict: they have long been two sides of the same coin in Abidjan and, as a binary “choice,” prevent the search for more democratic alternatives. Simultaneously, I argue that anti-political peace it is best approached as a field of contest. An ethnographic approach acknowledges the widespread rejection of politics in the Ivoirian metropolis, while resisting the collapse of institutional and everyday perspectives into a self-reinforcing consensus. I show that radio producers and Abidjanais residents could not quite pin down the meaning of politics, as that which ought to be shunned. Rather than bypass these hesitations through normative or ontological reasoning, I suggest (following others) that we might treat politics' irreducible polysemy as a source of continued struggle.
... These are then assumed to indicate axes of misrecognition that determine procedural and distributive injustices. But as Barnett (2017: 10) cautions, this deductive approach relies on ontological modes of reasoning that "always find what they were already looking for (or its absence)." In contrast, more recent theoretical work emphasizes that the struggle for recognition is one over contextuallyspecific, intersubjective norms of recognition. ...
... In contrast, more recent theoretical work emphasizes that the struggle for recognition is one over contextuallyspecific, intersubjective norms of recognition. These norms determine whose claims of harm, suffering and insecurity can be recognized as legitimate and worthy of ethical and political attention (Kompridis, 2007;Barnett 2017). Viewed this way, the meaning and work of recognition, like definitions of injustice more broadly (Barnett, 2018), cannot be specified through the deductive, a priori identification of abstract, structural inequalities or categorical indicators such as "participation." ...
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This paper explores the relation between resilience, justice and recognition through a case study of resilience planning in the Greater Miami Region. Greater Miami resilience plans, prepared through the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities program, have foregrounded equity as a cross-cutting theme-a surprising move given the region's history of anti-Black violence, segregation, and racially exclusionary governance, and the recent focus of resilience-building initiatives on sustaining property values. Bringing together literatures on resilience and justice, recognition, critical race theory, and design theory, we ask how Miami resilience initiatives extend the structures of anti-Black violence through efforts to address the region's extreme racial and economic inequalities in the name of equity and shore up the regional economy against complex socio-ecological shocks and stressors. Our analysis details how Miami's resilience-building efforts are uneasily situated across at least two distinct styles of recognition. On the one hand, contextually-specific norms of recognition shaped through the region's history of racial capitalism valorize the security of Miami's racialized real estate markets. On the other hand, design-driven resilience planning initiatives valorize diverse forms of knowledge on racially uneven development for the pragmatic utility they offer planners and professionals seeking holistic solutions to complex socio-ecological problems. While designerly approaches to resilience-building have created new possibilities for incorporating equity concerns (promoted by local social and climate justice organizations) into decision-making processes, they ultimately fail to unsettle the libidinal economy of dehumanizing anti-Black violence that continues to structure who can author(ize) what a resilient Miami might become.
... Jones, 2009, p. 493). The debate around the horizontal and vertical dimensions of space and politics is central for a spatial research agenda on transformation (Barnett, 2017;Hardt and Negri, 2017; see also Schmid, 2019a). Shaped by many misunderstandings -in particular the confusion of ontological perspectives with arguments pertaining to relations of power -the 'scale debate' shows a need for a differentiated consideration of two issues. ...
... Power, as alignment of practices, then, can be both dominative and transformative. As Barnett states in the introductory quote of this chapter, a theory of power should consider both domination and constitution making visible power's 'double-sidedness' or 'double potentiality' (Saar, 2014: 10, see also Saar, 2010;Barnett, 2017;Negri, 2004, 2017). Following community economy scholarship, economic practices are not solely aligned through profit interest and as markets but also along non-capitalist dimensions. ...
Book
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In the light of social and environmental unsustainability and injustice, the continuing attachment to the idea that a growth-based economy is reconcilable with ecological limits seems increasingly implausible. Tracing and dissecting the complexities of social change, this book speaks about the development of visions, alternatives, and strategies for a radical transformation beyond growth-based economies. Covering an empirical sample of 24 eco-social organizations, projects, and groupings in the city of Stuttgart (Germany), the study drills down into the social, spatial, and strategic dimensions of transformation. It advances a conceptually and empirically grounded assessment of the possibilities and limitations of community activism and civic engagement in shifting transformative geographies towards a degrowth trajectory.
... More recently, the discussion on city-regional citizenship has gained further nuances as scholars have sought to find a language that allows them to address various kinds of rights to belonging and participation in the appropriation of cities as lived environments and sites of politics. That people's orientations and concerns increasingly escape the territorial confines of singular municipalities or urban jurisdictions, and are embedded in practices and experiences of everyday life, have been captured with notions such as 'metrozenship' (Yiftachel, 2015), 'lived citizenship' (Lister, 2007), and 'communities of affected interests' (Barnett, 2017). While research on city-regional citizenship is relatively scarce, there is a growing body of research that seeks to make sense of urban forms of attachment, claims making and agency that cannot be pinned down to territory or legal status in any simple or straightforward manner (Häkli and Paasi, 2003;Purcell, 2007;Aldred, 2010;Jones, 2012;Kübler, 2018;Lackowska and Mikuła, 2018;Lidström and Schaap, 2018). ...
... Our discussion draws from research on the democratic elements of planning in Finnish city regions, with specific focus on the possibility of citizens presenting their views on strategic development trajectories. In agreement with critical work on the all affected principle, we note that it is not possible to define clearly and in advance which citizen groups ought to be heard in city-regional planning processes due to their long time spans, spatial ambiguity, and the overall strategic nature of city-regional planning (Lagerspetz, 2015;Barnett, 2017). For the very same reasons, we deem it important to enhance citizen participation in these processes as, in Finland and elsewhere, they are more or less detached from the statutory planning system and thus not subject to all legislation on land use planning and urban development (Healey, 2009;Bäcklund and Mäntysalo, 2010;Lindström and Schaap, 2018). ...
Article
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City regions are significant sites of economic development, policymaking, and everyday living. Yet in many countries they are weakly institutionalized and therefore lack established democratic practices. This article is based on a study exploring citizen participation in city‐regional planning in Finland, where traditional participatory means have largely failed to invite and involve citizens. The analysis approaches city regions relationally, as evolving processes with a changing spatial shape and scope. Through the notion of lived citizenship, including the dimensions of status, practices and acts, the article reveals how the dominant ideas of citizenship in city‐regional planning hide from view elements that are significant for citizen participation. Whereas people's rights to participation can largely be fulfilled on a territorial basis in municipalities and states through legal membership in political communities, in the context of weakly institutionalized city‐regional planning such status‐based forms of participation are typically not available. This vagueness has created an image of a missing city‐regional citizenry, which the article sets out to challenge and rework through the notion of issue‐based participation as lived citizenship.
... Others are critical towards this opposition between a true political moment or space and the existing order of politics and emphasize different terrains and temporalities of political actions blurring the boundaries between "proper" politics and its other (e.g. Barnett, 2017). ...
... There is a tendency in both liberal and radical perspectives to assume a binary between state and society when considering problems and possibilities. In part, the resulting debate rests on whether new loci of politics are emerging beyond formal politics and whether we should embrace them or redefine and reassert the formal system (see Clarke et al., 2018;Tormey, 2015), and the extent to which democracy rests on flourishing contestation as opposed to building consensus (Barnett, 2017). But as will be shown below in the struggles against austerity, seeking to draw lines between formal and extra-formal politics, state and society, is increasingly problematic. ...
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This article draws novel links between ‘anti-politics’, austerity and a political horizon centred on the urban. Research on anti-politics often invokes a binary understanding of a politics of and within the state and an anti-politics at a distance from or hostile towards the state. This article argues that in the context of austerity, this binary loses traction. Austerity has intensified the transformation towards networked forms of governance within which the state becomes a more hybrid entity of contradictory ideals and practices. Austerity not only calls into question the legitimacy of formal politics because of its devastating social outcomes, it also disaggregates the political authority of the state and opens up a particularly urban terrain of politics. We capture this development by examining the intersections between the local state and the urban field of politics. Looking across the struggles against austerity in Europe, and focusing in more detail on housing politics in Berlin, we assert that the urban is important not only as a setting (as typically argued) but also as the basis for a different rationality of political action in and against austerity. In the context of austerity struggles, state authority becomes ever more contingent and other, more urban, forms of politics advance. In sum, the article contributes to a spatial reading of (anti-)politics against austerity, points to the de-centring of the state in transformative political projects and emphasizes the analytical purchase of a distinctly urban perspective on contemporary politics in Europe.
... Yet, when asking what a 'just' transition would look like, it can be helpful to consider whether a clearly articulated idea of justice is necessary or useful to address injustice. Alternatively, recognising wrongdoing does not require consensus on what is right, but may be better served through communicative tools -elaboration of different claims of injustice and critical reflection on their legitimacy among all those affected (Cooke 2006, Barnett 2017. Consultation is often organised in ways that legitimise prior decisions and exclude divergent views, reflecting deeper procedural inequalities (Lehtonen and Kern, 2009;Stirling, 2009). ...
... Yet, when asking what a 'just' transition would look like, it can be helpful to consider whether a clearly articulated idea of justice is necessary or useful to address injustice. Alternatively, recognising wrongdoing does not require consensus on what is right, but may be better served through communicative tools -elaboration of different claims of injustice and critical reflection on their legitimacy among all those affected (Cooke 2006, Barnett 2017. Consultation is often organised in ways that legitimise prior decisions and exclude divergent views, reflecting deeper procedural inequalities (Lehtonen and Kern, 2009;Stirling, 2009). ...
Article
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This report provides a global synthesis of evidence on justice in transitions to low-carbon energy systems and processes of urbanization. While cities are important sites of energy consumption, analysis of urbanisation offers explanations of how social and spatial injustices are created through the building, fuelling, feeding, and funding of cities. We identify how sustainability transitions can reproduce inequalities – and hence become a potential source of injustice – by highlighting the terms on which transitions are contested, how urban poverty is conceived and measured, how and by whom knowledge about urban change is produced, how cities are planned, how divestment and investment are managed, and how infrastructure is financed. Evidence is presented from Africa, the Asia Pacific, Europe and North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, where the authors have been engaged in projects co-produced with regional research partners. A global agenda on just transitions identifies common and distinctive experiences in different social and spatial contexts. We argue that taking the social and spatial character of transitions seriously means questioning assumptions that underpin the management of transitions, including the strategy of mobilising resources for transitions by maintaining economic power at difference scales from the global to the household.
... Throwntogetherness invites political questions about the criteria, terms, resources and practices through which a place is made-and made to be welcoming, tolerant, good or otherwise. Taking space as a question (Massey 2005, 13) directs attention to the ways communities formulate situated and provisional answers as they attune and respond to encounters with difference (Wilson 2017;Swanton 2016), issue and evaluate claims about the world (Barnett 2017), and negotiate grammars of 'principled action' in everyday life (Raffel 2013;Blum and McHugh 1984). In this sense, to approach politics as 'the (ever-contested) question of our being together' is to take interest in the ways that people and groups negotiate their place in a wider world of projects, agendas and 'storiesso-far' to which their own projects are made responsible (Massey 2005, 9-12, 142;Massey 2004). ...
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For Doreen Massey, space is a challenge of multiplicity, encounter and relation: a ‘throwntogetherness’ that demands ongoing negotiation. Space, Massey argues, is open—it is capable of being made otherwise. Drawing on Massey’s ideas, this essay reflects on the everyday political work of community projects to open up space for new possibilities of living with difference within hostile political environments. Through a combination of ethnographic storytelling, photography and diagrammatic sketches, I follow ‘stories-so-far’ from the Auróra community centre in Budapest, Hungary and its members’ project to build a community garden. Rather than focus on prevailing discourses which frame Hungarian politics as a battle between an illiberal government and a liberal opposition, I shift attention to everyday experiences of this hostile political environment by examining projects as mundane and local techniques through which community groups describe, assemble, and work on their own better possible futures. In so doing, I also argue for a praxeological, rather than ontological reading of Massey’s work: rather than presuming a priori that all space is open, we should follow Massey in analysing the situated and ongoing ‘terms of engagement’ through which people open up—and close down—better possible spaces and better ways of living with difference.
... But at the same time, their sedimentation into "commonsensical" critical knowledge has made further critical engagement with resilience more difficult. This is because subsequent critiques have increasingly come to rely on what Clive Barnett (2017) describes as ontological modes of reasoning: deductive, categorical analyses that hinge on identifying certain familiar forms (such as the biopolitical production of risk-bearing subjects or critiques of centralization) and then drawing conjectural lines of equivalence between these forms and neoliberal governance. From this angle, resilience is always guilty by association: a fatally compromised concept that cannot escape its formal neoliberal shackles. ...
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In April of 2019, the Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities” (100RC) program abruptly shuttered, surprising program proponents and critics alike. In this paper, we explore why this happened, why some styles of geographical critique could not anticipate 100RC’s closure, and what this inability means for dominant strands of critical geographic analysis. To answer these questions, we bring literature on the biopolitics of resilience, technopolitics, and Black geographies to bear on the case of Greater Miami resilience planning. We argue that answers to these questions revolve around the designerly roots of resilience thinking, whose distinct intellectual lineage conventional critical approaches have struggled to pick up on. We show how, on the one hand, design practices of synthesis in Greater Miami attempted to frame and instrumentalize Black histories of and experiences with racial and environmental violence as bounded knowledge that could improve the functioning of complex systems. On the other hand, synthesis created overflowings: opaque knowledges and experiences that resist the framing process and continue to mediate political battles over what resilience in Greater Miami practically becomes. Based on the case, we propose that an inductive style of critique that traces processes of framing and overflowing can help advance critical geographic analysis. As we illustrate in the paper, this mode of critique pays specific attention to the opaque, historically and contextually‐specific knowledges and experiences that refuse to be framed or synthesized, and work to counter‐frame dominant conceptions of resilience—critical and conventional alike.
... In his most recent work, therefore, Barnett (2017) argues that rather than developing an ideal or perfect theory of justice, geographers would benefit by evaluating injustice through critical evaluation. Influenced by the work of Iris Marion Young, Nancy Fraser, and Amartya Sen, Barnett understands justice as something "developed not to satisfy an ideal model but in relation to situated expressions of injustice … a condition that is approached through processes of repair, redress, reparation and redistribution" (p. ...
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Justice has long been central to geographic research but attention to the concept itself has been less explicitly theorized within the discipline. This article specifically traces the ways in which justice has been theorized within human geography. The review identifies commonalities among justice applications within geography, suggesting a shift beyond distributive and ideal theories of justice toward those explicating injustices coming more from bottom‐up approaches. At the same time, it identifies the tendency of geographers to approach the concept of justice through normative‐political approaches rather than normative‐analytical justifications of socio‐spatial phenomena. The paper illustrates the value of both approaches to justice theorizing but cautions that geographers should continue to justify the use of the concept within their work to avoid attenuating it. In ending, the paper illustrates how justice‐oriented geographers can continue to identify why justice is central to their scholarship.
... Aside from criticising social conditions, researchers and practitioners are exploring a range of alternative development options. Research into economic and political alternatives (Fuller/Jonas/Lee 2016;Leyshon/Lee/Williamet et al. 2003) comprises a series of complementary but also diverging concepts and research strands such as post-growth (Demaria/Kallis/Bakker 2019; Schmelzer/Vetter 2019), post-capitalism (Chatterton/Pusey 2019;Gibson-Graham 2006), commons (Helfrich/ Bollier 2019), radical democracy (Barnett 2017), post-development (Kothari/ Salleh/Escobar et al. 2019) and the solidarity economy (Exner/Kratzwald 2012;North/Cato 2017). All these approaches criticize political, economic and cultural practices that are based on increasingly severe encroachments in social and ecological systems and leading to the highly unequal destabilisation of communities and ecosystems. ...
Chapter
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Post-Growth Geographies examines the spatial relations of diverse and alternative economies between growth-oriented institutions and multiple socio-ecological crises. The book brings together conceptual and empirical contributions from geography and its neighbouring disciplines and offers different perspectives on the possibilities, demands and critiques of post-growth transformation. Through case studies and interviews, the contributions combine voices from activism, civil society, planning and politics with current theoretical debates on socio-ecological transformation.
... Rather the forms of solidarity and interdependence developed through social movement activity and the ways they became enmeshed in the everyday realities and ordinary experiences in urban areas became generative of spatialities of democratic politics entailing forms of relational identification and intersubjective acknowledgment based on care, reciprocity, intersubjectivity and mutuality (Arampatzi, 2017a;Featherstone, 2019). Following Barnett (2004Barnett ( , 2017, such 'ordinary' political experiences problematize an idealized understanding of politics encountered in Mouffe's democratic model, in which only certain spaces and moments are prioritized as more 'genuine' or 'properly' political than others. Instead, these experiences escape a territorialized view of politics and open up to diverse articulations of democratic politics and forms of political agency, which may develop at a distance from the nation-state and become grounded on the urban everyday (Beveridge and Featherstone, 2021). ...
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Critical debates in human geography have interrogated the changing political landscapes of the post‐2008 crisis period and the post‐democratic imprint of neoliberal reconfigurations in Europe. Moreover, geographers have offered insights into politicisation processes that disrupted the post‐crisis consensus, attesting to the possibility inherent within forms of democratic politics. Contributing to these debates, this paper critically engages with Chantal Mouffe’s “agonistics” approach, aiming to deliberate on the implicit geographies of her thought and bring forward the complex, messy, and multi‐scalar geographies of democratic politics. In so doing, the paper offers an empirically informed comparative perspective of two exemplary cases of governance changes. Social solidarity economy (SSE) and housing inform our re‐conceptualisation of “agonistics,” through a plural reading of the co‐existing and at times conflicting forms of political agency and democratic politics of this period. By conceptualising the multiple and heterogeneous spatialities, modalities, and temporalities of agonistics in Athens and Madrid, we acknowledge their mutual constitution and distinct analytical validity for geographical thinking. Comparing across uneven geographical contexts elicits crucial tensions emanating from the heterogeneity of the two contexts and further allows us to distillate the diverse, yet complementary, logics and analytical dimensions of agonistics. Eventually, our contribution aims to problematise the distinction between “politics” and “the political” – as either neatly spatialised around pre‐given state spaces or understood exclusively as disruptive moments and ruptural events – and draw the attention to actually existing forms of agonistic politics. The paper critically engages with Chantal Mouffe’s “agonistics” approach, aiming to deliberate on the implicit geographies of her thought and bring forward the complex, messy, and multi‐scalar geographies of democratic politics. In so doing, it offers an empirically informed comparative perspective of two exemplary cases of governance changes in Athens and Madrid, which inform our re‐conceptualisation of “agonistics”, through a plural reading of the spatialities, modalities, and temporalities of democratic politics.
... This principle holds 'that all those affected by a given social structure or institution have moral standing as subjects of justice in relation to it' (Fraser, 2005: 13). In so doing, this principle does not only inhere a strongly normative force, but brings in a decidedly geographical dimension into theorizations of democracy, since it addresses the question of the spatial framing of public action (Barnett and Bridge, 2013;Barnett, 2017). Whereas this question was formerly answered by equating the 'all-affected-principle' with the territorial state, in the sense that the state served as the only and taken-for-granted frame for guaranteeing justice, the manifold extra-and non-territorial forces, demonstrate that the state today is not sufficiently able to fulfill this function and that injustices of various kinds transcend its boundaries. ...
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How do societies respond to ‘super wicked’ problems that often occur at very large spatial and temporal scales? On the one hand, there exists a tendency to conceive of liberal democracy as inconvenient, inflexible and as incapable of dealing with complex and elusive issues such as climate change or questions of environmental injustice. On the other, these issues have given rise to manifold ‘emerging public spheres’ inside and outside existing democratic institutions. Since both of these tendencies refer to the idea of sustainability, this contribution discusses the relationships between different future trajectories of sustainability and democracy in particular with regards to their inherent spatialities. Building on this, and following the works of contemporary political theorists and human geographers, it suggests conceptualizing democracy from a pragmatist point of view as coined by the North American philosopher John Dewey. In doing so, it becomes possible to reframe democracy in the Anthropocene and to conceive of it as an ever-evolving phenomenon of problem-solving communities that convene around different issues of shared concern. This perspective allows thinking beyond theorizations of global democracy, in favor of a democratic model that shows openness for social complexity and uncertainty and which accepts that the spaces of democratic action are not given from the outset but that they are brought into being by the emerging publics themselves.
... In that sense, it is a response to an 'immanent obligation' that one cannot simply choose to choose and that is instead based on a 'form of relationality that one finds oneself drawn to and finds oneself nurturing, or caring for in the midst of critical reflexivity' (Povinelli 2011: 33). In responding to such obligation, we turn in part to Arendt (1981; also see Barnett, 2017) who, by taking seriously the ramifications of existing with a plurality of others, offers an alternative to accounts of judgment based on either sovereign decision or the application of universal standards, and instead approaches judgment as inherently political in the sense of involving an unavoidable address to others, whose response cannot be assumed or predicted in advance. ...
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Scholars across the social sciences and humanities have increasingly questioned the meaning and purpose of critique. Contributing to those conversations, some geographers have advocated for affirmative or reparative practices such as reading for difference or experimentation that seek to provoke more joyful, hopeful, or enchanting affects, as alternatives to what they perceive as a prevailing forms of ‘negative’ critique. In response, others have re-emphasized the centrality of negativity and revalued negative affects in the context of regimes of racialization, heteronormativity, and coloniality. Rather than taking sides in a debate thus framed, this article develops an ambivalent position that foregrounds multiple senses of difference that exist within affirmative and reparative projects. Drawing on feminist and queer geographic work, the explicitly political and difference-oriented writing of Sedgwick and Deleuze, and queer and postcolonial affect scholars, we argue for critique characterized by an ambivalent and pluralistic attitude toward feeling. Joining those arguing for a pluralization of the moods and modes of critical work, our readings suggest the necessity of a pluralism that refuses any escape from the ‘negativity’ of the social field in favor of an affectively ambivalent engagement with the inherent politics of critique in a plural and uneven world.
... Divisions took hold around scale's relationship with ontology and the political consequences of our conceptions. Separately, and more recently, disciplinary debates surrounding 'politics', 'the political' and how they relate to ontology have also deepened (Barnett, 2017;Dikeç, 2005Dikeç, , 2012aDikeç, , 2012bFeatherstone and Korf, 2012;Meyer et al., 2012;Swyngedouw, 2009Swyngedouw, , 2010Swyngedouw, , 2013. But herein, I suggest, lies an opportunity. ...
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This paper argues that human geography’s scale debate has arrived at somewhat of an impasse surrounding scale’s relative position to ontology. Divides are most evident between those that see scales as ‘already existing’ and those considering this as a form of ‘ontological reification’ that stifles our understanding of politics. I suggest that reading the ‘politics of scale’ through Jacques Rancière’s political thinking, and in particular his aesthetic approach to the problem of ontological reductionism, can offer one way forward. It enables geographers to take existing ‘common-sense’ ideas around scale seriously whilst also being sensitive to emergent politics.
... In the critical social sciences (and thus geography), little attention, has been given to normative implications of the development of regions and metropolises (Barnett, 2017). For example, questions of how things ought to be different, and what we should evaluate in order to promote persons' well-being or avoidable suffering, were largely overlooked (Israel and Frenkel, 2018;Jamal and Hales, 2016;Sayer and Storper, 1997). ...
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Issues of justice and inequality are among the most compelling themes in spatial studies. And yet, the field lacks a normative approach to justice in measurements of inequality in spatial scales, either in the regional, or alternatively, in the urban. In a paper by Israel and Frenkel (2018), the authors offer a theoretical framework that advances the study of social justice in space. It utilizes concepts of Pierre Bourdieu's theory on social class, while using Amartya Sen's 'capabilities' approach to justice to define the metrics of this concept. We take their proposed framework and examine it empirically by means of a regional case study in Israel. Data were collected on a central region in Israel and a field survey was conducted on more than 1000 households. The concept of justice and the socio-spatial structures under which justice is created were converted into measurable values. By using Explanatory Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Modeling, the conceptual framework was quantitatively estimated. In accordance with the inspected theory, we show that the interrelationship between a person's location in the social space and living environment influences his or her life-chances. The empirical results demonstrate how the proposed theory can be operationalized-that is, binding a normative idea with an empirically based scrutinization of the social and cultural constraints that affect freedom of choice. The framework's operationalization allows for applying it in future endeavors that strive to understand what normative implications spatial development carry when relating to the social space and built environment of a place.
... This recognition runs counter to a growing tendency within some critical work on urban resilience to "black box" resilience just when resilience initiatives are becoming operationalized and contested in multiple ways and locations (Grove 2019). These critiques rely on a deductive form of argument that, as Barnett (2017) cautioned in discussing contemporary trends in critical political theory, "only ever finds what it was already looking for (or its absence)" (10). As an increasingly transparent object of knowledge whose dimensions (we are told) are fully known in advance-an ideological critique of centralization, the biopolitical production of risk-bearing individuals and communities, a complex systems ontology, the rendering technical of governance-much critical analysis simply throws resilience into the already volatile mix of contemporary urban dynamics. ...
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This paper responds to the following paradox: as government actors have begun to operationalize resilience in a variety of ways and contexts, critical analyses of resilience have continued to sidestep empirical complexity in favor of "black boxing" the concept. This paper advances a different analytical path. Drawing on a case study of Greater Miami resilience initiatives, and reading across literatures on critical race theory, critical resilience studies and Foucauldian-inspired understandings of critical practice, the paper develops an inductive framework for analyzing resilience politics and its intersection with prevailing racial formations. Doing so allows us to make sense of two seemingly contradictory events: how, on the one hand, resilience initiatives are topologically recalibrating techniques that produce and manage racialized difference in the Miami metropolitan economy to govern uncertain futures-specifically, segregation, centralization, expertise and gradualism-and how, on the other hand, activists are mobilizing resilience to both critique and challenge these techniques and their legacies of racial exclusion. We thus argue that resilience is a site of indeterminate politics, and that inductive modes of inquiry can help unpack how resilience comes to reinforce uneven power relations-and thus identify previously overlooked possibilities for strategic intervention.
... In short, the concept of the political is best approached genealogically, rather than ontologically. 5 Far from thinking of fields of governance, policy implementation, or decision-making as examples of post-democratic "police" administration, we would be better advised to think of myriad practices of administration, government, managementof ruleas always involving claims and counter-claims and therefore perfectly capable of generating a dynamic of democratization. 6 Perhaps we should follow Michel Foucault in affirming that it is in arenas focussed upon the ways in which society is actually governed that one finds "political problems in the strictest sense." ...
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In the UK, discussion of good citizenship during the COVID‐19 pandemic largely focused on compliance and non‐compliance with government rules. In this article, we offer an alternative point of focus. Pandemic governance proceeded not only through rules/morality, but also through freedom/ethics. Good citizenship, therefore, involved practical reasoning in response to situations. We demonstrate this using diaries and other forms of writing collected by Mass Observation during the first six months of the pandemic. Responses to government rules and guidance varied by situation. Many people found governance through freedom/ethics confusing and burdensome. Faced by ethical dilemmas, they managed risks and responsibilities by deliberating, weighing justifications, and sometimes falling back on rules of thumb or heuristics. Discussion of good citizenship during future emergencies would benefit from a greater focus on situations, dilemmas, and justifications.
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This paper locates trade union banners and those of other campaigns and left organisations as part of the ongoing work and labour of producing democratic political cultures. It argues that engaging with the ways in which they were used, shaped, produced and re‐worked can shed important light on often neglected spatial practices and forms of agency of democratic politics. We contend that engaging with the geographical imaginaries and practices shaped by trade union engagements with democracy offers important and original perspectives on different articulations of spatial relations, labour and democratic politics.. The paper engages with Clive Barnett’s influential work on the geographies of democracy and outlines on alternative position based on engaging with the generative character of political activity.. The empirical part of the paper offers three cuts through different articulations of labour and democratic politics. The paper engages with the Banners of Glasgow Shipwrights to explore aspects of trade union politics and struggles for democratic reform, we discuss the relations between the STUC Black Workers' Committee and generative spaces of organising and the relations between banners and the peace movement to discuss forms of antagonistic democratic cultures.
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“Complexity” is ubiquitous in contemporary political commentary, where it is invoked to justify innovative governance programs. However, the term lacks analytic clarity. One way to make sense of it is to construct a genealogy of the notion of “wicked problems,” a concept that highlights the intractability of complex problems and problematizes the technocratic management of complexity. The term wicked problems originated in science planning in postwar Germany and urban planning in the United States. In both cases, planners rejected a naïve optimism about the potential of technical expertise in favor of recognizing that many problems transcend the knowledge possessed by experts. This appreciation of complexity led to attempts, still ongoing, to accommodate both participatory and expert-based decision making in the face of wicked problems, producing a form of technical democracy in which problem solving requires the orchestration of conflict.
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The past four years have seen fierce debates over a radical proposal aimed at speeding up the redistribution of land in South Africa—the expropriation of privately-owned land without the payment of compensation. The proposal and its reception must be located within the complex politics of land in the post-apartheid era, in a context where land reform is widely seen as failing to live up to its promise. The notion that ‘expropriation without compensation’ (EWC) offers a simple solution to the many problems facing land reform in South Africa is critically assessed and found wanting. To address the wider problems of land reform and ensure that it’s potential is realized, the state must address other key aspects of policy—beyond simply land acquisition and its cost. These include specifying the socio-political purposes of land reform, intended beneficiaries, anticipated impacts on livelihoods, the nature of land rights to be held by beneficiaries, and building capacity for effective implementation. But government is unlikely to do so on its own accord; sustained pressure ‘from below’, exerted by potential beneficiaries themselves as well as their allies in civil society and the state, will be required. Popular politics is thus key to the prospects for appropriate and effective land policy in South Africa.
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Post-Growth Geographies examines the spatial relations of diverse and alternative economies between growth-oriented institutions and multiple socio-ecological crises. The book brings together conceptual and empirical contributions from geography and its neighbouring disciplines and offers different perspectives on the possibilities, demands and critiques of post-growth transformation. Through case studies and interviews, the contributions combine voices from activism, civil society, planning and politics with current theoretical debates on socio-ecological transformation.
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Post-Growth Geographies examines the spatial relations of diverse and alternative economies between growth-oriented institutions and multiple socio-ecological crises. The book brings together conceptual and empirical contributions from geography and its neighbouring disciplines and offers different perspectives on the possibilities, demands and critiques of post-growth transformation. Through case studies and interviews, the contributions combine voices from activism, civil society, planning and politics with current theoretical debates on socio-ecological transformation.
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Post-Growth Geographies examines the spatial relations of diverse and alternative economies between growth-oriented institutions and multiple socio-ecological crises. The book brings together conceptual and empirical contributions from geography and its neighbouring disciplines and offers different perspectives on the possibilities, demands and critiques of post-growth transformation. Through case studies and interviews, the contributions combine voices from activism, civil society, planning and politics with current theoretical debates on socio-ecological transformation.
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Der Band »Postwachstumsgeographien« untersucht die Raumbezüge diverser und alternativer Ökonomien im Spannungsfeld von wachstumsorientierten Institutionen und multiplen sozialökologischen Krisen. Die Beiträge greifen diesen Ansatz erstmals umfassend auf und eröffnen mit konzeptionellen und empirischen Fachbeiträgen aus der Geographie und deren Nachbardisziplinen verschiedene Perspektiven auf die Möglichkeiten, Forderungen und Kritiken einer sozialökologischen Transformation. Aktuelle Diskussionen zu Postwachstumsökonomien werden aus geographischer Sicht präzisiert und mit Fallstudien und Interviews aus Zivilgesellschaft, Planung und Politik ergänzt. Der Band »Postwachstumsgeographien« untersucht die Raumbezüge diverser und alternativer Ökonomien im Spannungsfeld von wachstumsorientierten Institutionen und multiplen sozialökologischen Krisen. Die Beiträge greifen diesen Ansatz erstmals umfassend auf und eröffnen mit konzeptionellen und empirischen Fachbeiträgen aus der Geographie und deren Nachbardisziplinen verschiedene Perspektiven auf die Möglichkeiten, Forderungen und Kritiken einer sozialökologischen Transformation. Aktuelle Diskussionen zu Postwachstumsökonomien werden aus geographischer Sicht präzisiert und mit Fallstudien und Interviews aus Zivilgesellschaft, Planung und Politik ergänzt.
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While ‘traditionalism’ or ‘tribalism’ were previously regarded as impediments to social change in intellectual and revolutionary movements, discourses of authority and political legitimacy have changed in many African contexts. Governments have found ‘tradition’ to be an asset in gaining support for their policies, and political dissidents have placed similar claims for it. This is also true for the contested arena of ‘democracy’. The following chapter will discuss the example of Ethiopia, where different political actors have revitalised and combined ‘cultural’/‘traditional’ and ‘democratic’ values or claims in their struggles. It examines the increasing role of the Oromo traditional age- and generation organisation, called gadaa, and its political invocation in Ethiopia. The chapter analyses several interrelated political dynamics. One is a new political rhetoric, and powerful postcolonial postulate, of ‘indigenous democracy’, which asserts a constitutive sameness between democracy and gadaa. Gadaa has become a ‘political philosophy’, a new theory that challenges ‘Western’ definitional hegemony regarding what democracy is. The second is competition between the Ethiopian state and opposition parties to claim the rightful inheritance to this democratic tradition, at the base of which is a power struggle about legitimate political authority. The third concerns the government actively intervening and modifying the functioning of the gadaa organisation. The chapter indicates that conscious social engineering and new media attention have led to a cultural ‘re-boot’ of the system, creating a ‘third’, new form of social aggregate. Reference to gadaa today often works as a statement of political identity.
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Knowledge about air pollution is key, both to contest the status quo and to propose a different environmental imaginary as to how urban reality should be. Empirically, this paper focuses on Brussels and its history of air pollution contestation over the last fifty years, in order to trace how knowledge dynamics shape the politics of air. Theoretically, the paper offers a critical reading of the ‘post-political city’ literature that has been omnipresent in urban studies, human geography and political ecology over the last decades, in order to offer a more sophisticated theorization of expertise and knowledge. The paper offers at least three key insights. First, lay as well as public knowledge is of key importance in making air pollution manifest as a matter of concern. Making a perceived problem visible to a wider public in itself can be transformative and can pressure governments to respond, albeit rarely adequately. Second, the use of scientific knowledge by social movements and civil society plays a central role in contesting established priorities and in developing counter strategies, often alternating lay knowledge and more formal scientific knowledge in the process. At the same time, scientific knowledge and other forms of specialized expertise also play an important role in solidifying existing hierarchies of authority. Third, our analysis points to the centrality of the state as an arena for political action and to the importance of a politics of shifting blame and responsibility onto other layers of government or other societal actors.
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Across multiple academic disciplines and fields of policy, cities are now ascribed wide‐ranging task responsibility for addressing a wide range of global issues. This paper elaborates a genealogical mode of analysis for understanding the ascription of causal and practical responsibility to urban processes. This analysis is developed through a case study of the revival of interest in the concept of wicked problems. The paper pinpoints aspects of the original account of wicked problems that are crucial to appreciating the significance now played by this concept in discourses of metrophilia. The focus is on the specific sense of ‘wickedness’ outlined in this original account. The career of the wicked problems idea is reconstructed, with an emphasis on different views of expertise and how these are related to the changing status of the city in recent accounts of wicked problems. The paper identifies differences and similarities between the two prevalent ways in which the invocation of the concept of wicked problems is used to ascribe responsibility for shaping urban futures – a ‘taming’ perspective and a ‘sharing’ perspective. In concluding, it is argued that the career of the idea of wicked problems brings into view the constitutive link between generalised ascriptions of task responsibility to urban processes and a set of chronic concerns about the ambivalence of urban expertise.
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This chapter analyzes migration through the angle of what I propose to call a critical hermeneutical theory of transnational recognition. Forced migrants are often denizens in a space of political indetermination, leaving their countries for humanitarian reasons but sometimes not even recognized as valid subjects of rights, given the fact of their political exclusion. As Nancy Fraser (Scales of justice. Reimagining political space in a globalizing world. Columbia University Press, New York, 2010) has argued, these transnational problems mark the limits of a justice envisaged in Westphalian terms and push us to think justice in a post-Wesphalian framework. Within this backdrop, this chapter develops an alternative framework to help shed some light on migration problems and to understand the claims put forward by migrants. Drawing from critical theories of transnational justice such as Fraser’s (Scales of justice. Reimagining political space in a globalizing world. Columbia University Press, New York, 2010) and Forst’s (Metaphilosophy 32(1/2): 160–179, 2001), I apply this transnationalizing move to recognition theory and spell out the new grammar of recognition that comes to light when one thinks of social actors claiming for due recognition across borders. One of the key aspects is that this theory needs to be hermeneutical because unlike cosmopolitan theories that mainly insist in the need to welcome asylum seekers on the basis of respect for their human rights, I claim that one needs to go deeper and resort to thicker descriptions of the identities, communal ties, and cultural background of these people in order to understand their motives and what they can actually bring to enrich host societies. In order to flesh this out, some intersubjective settings are especially well suited such as narrative research with migrants themselves. The chapter thus spells out the tasks for this theory, from the hermeneutical understanding of recognition claims and their normative assessment to the political and institutional implications for host societies of seriously tackling migration from a recognition-theoretical perspective.
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This article explores design debates through a radical political lens. Examining ways in which architects, urban historians and townscape consultants view speculative office developments and profit-driven building height in the City of London, I argue for the democratization of the cityscape. I contest the prevalence of the consensual city-image in which towers are framed as structures that visual enhance historic landmarks and buildings of 'civic importance' in order to emphasize the importance of critically engaging with consensual pro-market governing processes and the role of tradition therein. Distinguishing between radical aestheticization and conservative beautification, I show how the Royal Fine Art Commission cultivated the latter and prepared the ground for today’s city-image. I suggest that design review can contribute to democratic urbanization processes if a radical conceptualization of aesthetics is being developed.
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Corresponding to the party-state’s expressed ambition to build a just society, Chinese citizenship education involves educating students for social justice. This paper critically examines the discursive subject of social justice in official citizenship education by analyzing school textbooks and interviewing schoolteachers. It sheds light on the discursive construction of social justice primarily through narratives of justice rather than injustice. Drawing upon the notion that injustice is distinct from and has priority over justice in moral and political philosophy and social theory, this paper argues that the positive discursive construction of social justice enables the party-state to manipulate social consensus and manufacture depoliticized, individualized and authoritarian citizenship. Seeing the lack of opportunity to teach and learn social injustice as epistemic injustice in itself, the paper suggests that education for social justice should be oriented as education against social injustice in China and beyond.
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Against the contemporary background of international and national commitments to citizenship education for social justice, this paper examines and compares the subject, aim and extent of social justice in citizenship education behind official rhetorics in Japan and China. It develops a three-dimensional framework of social justice to analyse, through mixed methods of text analysis, a set of selected authoritative documents, including official policies, national curriculum guidelines and government-authorized textbooks. The results reveal discursive divergences and convergences between the Japanese and Chinese cases. Social justice in the Japanese discourse tends to be constructed as recognitive injustice eliminable through identical treatment towards one another by individuals. By contrast, social justice in the Chinese discourse tends to be constructed as distributive justice achievable through differential treatment by the party-state. Common to the two cases is that both pay scant attention to collective actions for and the global bearing of social justice. The paper argues that the two cases similarly stop short of promoting comprehensive, transformative and global social justice education.
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A recent turn in geographical scholarship and the neighbouring disciplines emphasises spatial relationality. Reaching beyond methodological nationalism and topographical space, as part of this broad discussion, topological theorisation has been introduced as one potential way of rethinking spatial relations. Instead of identifying new territorial frameworks or scalar dimensions, topologies can be attained by tracing the social ties that people and collective actors adopt, create, maintain, transform, challenge and refuse as part of their everyday activities. Drawing from and developing further this theoretical perspective, my recent research with children and young people in Southern Finland and Northern England has established a methodological approach to studying people’s experiential worlds and, especially, their political dimensions. Topological mapping is about tracing people’s lived realities through spatial narratives and analysing these experienced realities in relational terms. The still-developing approach builds on a threefold conceptual baseline: subjectivity as a human capacity, topological polis as a relational context of living, and the political referring to subjectively experienced and socially shared, contextually forming matters of importance. This conceptual ground provides for exploring existing worlds from the experiential perspectives of children and young people. The chapter introduces topological mapping as a narrative methodology that, first, brings topological theorisation to inform childhood and youth research, second, opens opportunities to approaching spatiality from children’s experiential and interpretive perspectives, third, develops analytical tools to studying contextual lived realities with children and, fourth, makes space for children’s subjective yet intersubjectively established knowledges to emerge in scholarly enquiry, human rights contexts, policy-making and practical settings of childhood.
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This paper offers an alternative approach to some of the temporalising logics and imaginaries which have dominated debates around the post-political and post-democracy. It does this through engaging with the writings of figures associated with the ‘First New Left’ notably Stuart Hall and E.P. Thompson between 1956 and 1962. I argue that their essays in texts such as Out of Apathy bear some striking similarities with the claims of literatures relating to post-politics and post-democracy. Their work I argue repays substantive engagement; however, because through its attentiveness to emergent practices and geographies of antagonism, it offers a more generative and politically strategic resolution to some of the common discontents of consensus and marketisation of politics that has characterised work on post-politics. The paper develops these arguments through a discussion of how the uneven geographies of politicisation and trajectories of the Scottish left(s) in different parts of the post-war period have shaped and impacted on the spatial politics of austerity in significant ways.
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Der Beitrag entwickelt eine dezidiert räumliche Perspektive auf Transformationsstrategien. Er setzt sich mit der Frage auseinander, mit welchen räumlichen Konzepten sich Transformation denken lässt und welche Strategien sich aus dieser Betrachtung ableiten lassen. Die auf Erik Olin Wright zurückgehende Typologie aus symbiotischen, interstitiellen und konfrontativ-aufbrechenden Transformationsstrategien bietet ein Gerüst um unterschiedliche Möglichkeiten transformativer Praxis zu untersuchen und systematisch auszurichten. Kompromissbasierte, zwischenraumbezogene und antagonistische Vorgehensweisen bedingen jedoch einen genaueren Blick auf ihre sozialen und räumlichen Ausprägungen und Wechselwirkungen. Im Zusammenspiel mit einer (analytisch fundierten) Trennung unterschiedlicher Kategorien von Räumlichkeit und Sozialität kann es gelingen besonders tragfähige sozialräumliche Postwachstumsstrategien zu identifizieren.
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This edited book makes the case for a pragmatist approach to the practice of social inquiry and knowledge production. Through diverse examples from multiple disciplines, contributors explore the power of pragmatism to inform a practice of inquiry that is democratic, community-centred, problem-oriented and experimental. Drawing from both classical and neo-pragmatist perspectives, the book advances a pragmatist sensibility in which truth and knowledge are contingent rather than universal, made rather than found, provisional rather than dogmatic, subject to continuous experimentation rather than ultimate proof, and verified in their application in action rather than in the accuracy of their representation of an antecedent reality. The Power of Pragmatism offers a path forward for mobilising the practice of inquiry in social research, exploring the implications of pragmatism for the process of knowledge production.
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Lived citizenship has emerged as a key concept in citizenship studies over the last two decades. A growing number of authors have applied ideas of lived citizenship as a generative approach to recognise the embodied, relational and lived experiences of being a citizen in everyday life. However, lived citizenship currently lacks conceptual clarity and framing which weakens its analytical power and potential. In this paper we consider the theoretical origins, current applications and development of lived citizenship in order to clarify it as a concept and consider possibilities for its future. We propose a conceptual framing underpinned by four dimensions of lived citizenship (spatial, intersubjective, performed and affective) to serve as a starting point to sharpen and define this emerging field. We then explore these dimensions through three domains of scholarship, of children and youth, asylum seekers, and city-regional dwellers to illustrate the potential of a lived citizenship approach. We conclude by examining some of the implications of this concept as well as its limitations, with the aim of opening a dialogue with inter-disciplinary scholars to help us to further conceptualise this emerging field and widen its future possibilities.
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In both the global north and south the claim for food sovereignty (FS) has become a powerful antithesis to the globalized economy of food. Drawing on scientific debates around the spatial and political dimensions of FS, we will focus in this contribution on how this emerging claim materializes in practice and space. Therefore, we will analyze in an exemplary manner political practices of the Brazilian and Bolivian Landless Movements, which adopted the idea of FS as a guideline for their political action. Our results reveal that these groups do not only fight for FS in the form of 'typical' repre-sentational and overt political actions such as land occupations, the blocking of roads and manifestations. Rather, we will show that the Landless Movements also express their claims quite subtly, in surprising but yet very powerful ways through multifarious, spatially effective and meaningfully interconnected social practices, which reveal their political character only upon second glance. In order to conceptualize our observations and to recognize the political momentum of these practices, we draw on insights from social theory and political theory and identify three constitutive principles that enable us to make political practices in their 'worldliness' distinguishable and recognizable. Building on this con-ceptualization, we will further propose the approach of the 'multi-territorial site of the political' as an analytical tool to investigate the complex geographies of social movements, in particular but not exclusively, in the context of FS in Latin America. Zusammenfassung Die Forderung nach Ernährungssouveränität ist sowohl im Globalen Norden als auch im Globalen Süden zu ei-nem mächtigen Gegenentwurf zur globalisierten Agrar-und Nahrungsmittelindustrie geworden. Aufbauend auf den wissenschaftlichen Debatten um die räumlichen und politischen Dimensionen von Ernährungssouveränität, widmen wir uns in diesem Beitrag der Frage, auf welche Weise sich diese Forderung in der Praxis und im Raum manifestiert. Zu diesem Zweck untersuchen wir beispielhaft politische Praktiken der brasilianischen und der bolivianischen Landlosenbewegungen, die die Forderung nach Ernährungssouveränität zum Leitbild für ihre politischen Aktivitäten gemacht haben. Unsere Ergebnisse zeigen, dass diese Gruppen nicht nur in Form von ‚ty-pischen' offen ausgetragenen und symbolischen politischen Aktionen für Ernährungssouveränität kämpfen, wie z.B. Landbesetzungen, Kundgebungen oder Straßenblockaden. Vielmehr wird deutlich, dass die Landlosenbe-wegungen ihre Forderungen auf subtile und häufig überraschende, aber dennoch machtvolle Art und Weise ein-klagen-und zwar durch verschiedenartige räumlich wirksame und kontextuell miteinander verwobene soziale Vol. 150, No. 4 · Research article
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Recent critical scholarship regarding the right to the city suggests that the concept inadequately addresses the function of rights within urban socio-legal processes. This paper draws from various rights literatures to bring rights to the forefront of urban analyses. Empirically, the paper details the political struggles of Right 2 Dream Too (R2DT), a self-governed houseless encampment in Portland, Oregon, drawing from interviews with encampment residents and government officials as well as from analysis of media, government, and legal documents. The paper articulates how R2DT organized around a foundational set of moral claims for rights to a place of its own. While the paper admonishes that rights are ever contingent, and thus always unsettled, R2DT’s struggle over rights more broadly reflects how marginalized groups struggling over a right to exist within contemporary cities may be realized.
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This article outlines the community economies of Esch-sur-Alzette, the ‘second city’ of Luxembourg. ‘Community economies’ – an approach outlined by J.K. Gibson-Graham – draws attention to alternative narratives of economic development and the representation of economic identity. Despite (the Grand Duchy of) Luxembourg’s reputation as a European Union centre, with substantial finance and tax activity, Esch-sur-Alzette is a post-industrial and multilingual melting pot. The alternative narrative here is of the multiple community-based organisations and movements in Esch-sur-Alzette: an energy cooperative, urban gardening, an upcycling clothing factory, a local food shop and restaurant, and vibrant civil society discussions and interventions in (inter)national politics. Civil society, while central to both understandings of grassroots environmental action and the community economies framework of Gibson-Graham, takes on quite a different flavour in Luxembourg. This article then takes the case of Luxembourg to reread the relationship of the state to the so-called third sector, in doing so defending the political possibilities of community economies.
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This posthumous collection of interviews and occasional papers given by Castoriadis between 1974 and 1997 is a lively, direct introduction to the thinking of a writer who never abandoned his radically critical stance. It provides a clear, handy résumé of his political ideas, in advance of their times and profoundly relevant to today's world. For this political thinker and longtime militant (co-founder with Claude Lefort of the revolutionary group "Socialisme ou Barbarie"), economist, psychoanalyst, and philosopher, two endless interrogations-how to understand the world and life in society-were intertwined with his own life and combats. An important chapter discusses the history of "Socialisme ou Barbarie" (1949-1967); in it, Castoriadis presents the views he defended, in that group, on a number of subjects: a critique of Marxism and of the Soviet Union, the bureaucratization of society and of the workers' movement, and the primacy of individual and collective autonomy. Another chapter presents the concept, central to his thinking, of "imaginary significations" as what make a society "cohere." Castoriadis constantly returns to the question of democracy as the never-finished, deliberate creation by the people of societal institutions, analyzing its past and its future in the Western world. He scathingly criticizes "representative" democracy and develops a conception of direct democracy extending to all spheres of social life. He wonders about the chances of achieving freedom and autonomy-those requisites of true democracy-in a world of endless, meaningless accumulation of material goods, where the mechanisms for governing society have disintegrated, the relationship with nature is reduced to one of destructive domination, and, above all, the population has withdrawn from the public sphere: a world dominated by hobbies and lobbies-"a society adrift."